Wild About You
He’s the wolf of her dreams...
Alaskan werewolf Jake Hunter’s fascinated by Rachel Miller, his lovely neighbor across the lake. But he’s the founder of WARM (Werewolves Against Random Mating) and becoming involved with a human female would be the height of hypocrisy. That’s why he watches her from afar...until she accidentally crosses paths with a mother grizzly and her cub.
Rachel’s built her artistic reputation carving images of wolves inspired by a muscular male wolf she caught on camera. She never expected he’d show up again, let alone risk his life to save hers. Their connection borders on psychic, drawing her as she tracks him to Jake’s cabin. Her reserved and reclusive neighbor rebuffs her accusations that he’s harboring a wolf in his home, but her instincts tell her he’s lying.
And his haunting green eyes look exactly like the wolf’s...
“I should really shave off some of this fur,” Rachel murmured, partly to Jake but mostly to herself.
He raised his head and glared at her. No way was he submitting to that.
“You keep acting as if you understand every word I’m saying.” She met his glare with a soft smile. “You don’t, of course, but it’s uncanny how you seem to.”
He’d have to watch his reactions so she wouldn’t edge any closer to the truth. But he wouldn’t let her take a razor to his coat, and that was final. One shift to human form and another back to wolf form, and he’d be on the road to recovery. If she started hacking up his coat while he was in wolf form, it wouldn’t grow out for weeks.
“I’m sure you don’t want me to shave you, but it would make dressing your wounds about five hundred percent easier. I’m going to try it and see what happens.”
The hell she was. After she walked away, he staggered to his feet and headed unsteadily toward the bedroom door. He’d leap through a glass window if he had to. His fur had never been shaved and he wasn’t about to let her do it now.
“Hey.” She blocked his path, scissors in one hand and a girlie-looking pink razor in the other. “Where do you think you’re going?”
With one glance at the razor, he shouldered his way past her. Bad enough that she planned to shave him, but with a pink razor? Hell, no. Adrenaline gave him strength, and he nearly knocked her down. As he’d suspected, both the front door and the back one leading out to the deck were closed tight.
So were the windows. The bear had scared her into battening down the hatches. He didn’t blame her, and he’d hate to repay her kindness by breaking through her window.
Truthfully, he wasn’t sure if he could work up enough momentum to do that. The windows on the lake side of the cabin looked fairly new, which could mean they were double-paned. Besides, if he succeeded in breaking through, he’d leave her vulnerable if the bear returned.
He’d told the mother grizzly to keep away, but her cub was young and unruly. He could scamper back. Curiosity might cause him to climb through a shattered window, and his mother would be obliged to follow. Jake cursed a bad situation that left him no good options.
“What’s gotten into you?” Rachel approached him, still clutching the scissors and pink razor. “You seemed so docile until I mentioned shaving your fur.” She frowned. “Surely that isn’t the reason?”
Growling, he backed away from her.
“I can’t believe it’s that.” She tucked both hands behind her back. “You can’t possibly know what I plan to do with these.”
Yes, I do, toots. He growled again, louder this time. He would never hurt her, but if she thought she could trick him into getting shaved, she had another think coming. He’d find a way to escape that fate, one way or another.
“All right, I’ll give up on it for now. Come on back to your bed and lie down. You shouldn’t be walking around. You’re shaking like a leaf and you’re bleeding again.”
He was shaking, and he hated that. He’d lost a lot of blood and without the ability to shift, he was pathetically weak.
“Go on. Get back in there and lie down before you fall down.”
He saw the wisdom in that suggestion. If he collapsed in the middle of her living room he might not have the strength to get up again, let alone stop her from shaving him. The folded quilt she’d fixed for him was far more comfortable than this wide-plank wood flooring. He made his way back to the bedroom.
“The thing is, I want to put some salve on your wounds and it will make a mess of your fur, which is incredibly thick. If I could just trim around the gashes, the process would be way easier. Then I could bandage you better, too.”
She wasn’t going to let the idea go. He imagined himself getting shaved and then heading to San Francisco in three days. Giselle had scheduled a late-night run with some of WARM’s supporters in the hills outside the city, and if Rachel had her way, he’d be the mangiest looking animal on that run.
Besides, some Were was bound to ask about it, and what was he supposed to say? That he’d allowed a human female to shave off his fur, like Delilah snipping on Sampson? This time in Rachel’s cabin had to remain their little secret, and that meant keeping all his fur intact. As much as he longed to curl up on the fluffy quilt, he followed his instincts and crawled under her king-sized bed.
He was too big to be doing that, but by flattening himself to the floor, he managed to wiggle his way to the very middle. Every movement hurt like crazy, but at least he’d be safe under there.
“Oh, for pity’s sake. Come out of there. How am I supposed to put salve on you when you’re under the bed?”
He figured he could do without the salve. She’d given him a dose of the antibiotic and cleaned his wounds. That should be good enough. It would be more than enough if only he could shift, but he didn’t dare try, even hidden under the bed after she was asleep.
The space was cramped, and assuming she slept in that bed tonight, she might feel him bumping around underneath her during a shift. Just his luck she’d hang her head over the edge and spy a naked man where a wolf used to be. He’d wait out the night and escape in the morning.
She didn’t appear ready to give up so easily, however. Dropping to her hands and knees, she peered under the bed. “I see you under there, wolf.”
He could see her, too, and she looked adorably pissed at him. Too bad. At this moment their goals weren’t aligned and she’d have to get over it.
“I wish I knew what has freaked you out. I still can’t believe it was the scissors and razor.”
He stared back at her and sent her a telepathic message. It was mostly the very pink razor. He didn’t expect her to get the message. Humans couldn’t communicate with Weres in wolf form. But he felt better after sending it, even if she couldn’t hear him.
She frowned as if trying to make sense of something. He wondered if her empathy allowed her to pick up part of the transmission, even if she couldn’t understand all of it. She was the most intuitive human he’d ever met, so she might hear a muddled version of his telepathic thoughts.
Testing her innate ability would be fascinating. But he’d have to reveal himself as a werewolf to do that, and he had no intention of betraying himself or his kind. He might believe she wouldn’t sound the alarm, but could he be absolutely sure?
His heart answered yes, but his logical brain insisted that she was human, and humans represented too great a risk to security. She could never be allowed to know who he was.